After spending a wonderful week with my newborn grandson, daughter, and son-in-law, fate decided that I needed a snap back to reality during my flight home from Texas. I was traveling by myself, and the journey evolved into an excruciating ordeal. After just thirty minutes seated, my joints screamed for the relief of movement in response to an intolerable building of frustrated dyskinetic pressure. By the time that the plane taxied, I was on the verge of a debilitating panic attack.
I had not faced such acute apprehension since DBS brain surgery when a medieval-looking cage of forced immobility clamped my head firmly in place. Fighting a free-floating anxiety unmatched by flying in combat or while lost deep within Andrea Doria’s First-Class Dining Room, it took all my will to hold the panic at bay without taking the anxiety medication Xanax. And we had not even taken off yet.
Xanax is highly addictive, and I strive to avoid its use when managing Parkinson’s disquiet, leaving me to look for nonpharmaceutical solutions, often mantras, for calm. Sitting with hands pinned beneath my thighs to avoid flailing into neighboring passengers, I silently repeated over and over a meditation of the Indian Zen adept Tipola:
“Don’t recall, don’t imagine, don’t think, don’t examine, don’t control: Rest.”
Isolated in the awareness of my private hell, exhausted from the continuous effort, slow rescue arrived in the form of three simple words, “don’t control” and “rest.”
It is one thing to superficially accept that most things we strive to control are beyond our reach. It is entirely another to look deeply within to cut lifelong ties to the illusion of hegemony.
My dissonant facial expressions must have had the other passengers thinking me utterly mad. I smiled broadly, realizing that they just might be onto something. I like to keep people guessing.